What are the best five questions to ask your potential lawyer?
By Lajita Allan-Agnew
Lawyers will often provide an initial consultation to get an understanding of your legal problem and provide you with their advice on how to best to approach the issue. A lot of people are worried that these sessions are about “selling them” on or “scaring them into” an expensive course of action that may be in the lawyers, but not their best interests. However, regardless of how you may feel about these initial meeting they provide you with the opportunity to ask a series of questions of your lawyer to see if they are right for you.
You will probably have a list of questions that you want to be answered but if you have not had to have a legal matter resolved before, here are 5 questions to help you get started that will help you decide if the lawyer you are talking to is right for you.
1. How much is it going to cost?
Legal matters can be difficult to budget as they are dependent on a lot of different people interacting in a lot of different ways. However, your lawyer will have been practicing for long enough to have built up a fair working average cost for matters like yours. After they have heard the basics of your problem they should be able to give you a rough estimate of how much matters like yours have cost in the past. This can then lead to a conversation about the lawyer’s fees and how much work they think they will have to do to bring your problem to a conclusion. It is also the opportunity to ask how you will be billed when you will have to pay and what kind of payment options the Lawyer and their firm are willing to accept.
2. Who will be doing the work on my case?
Leading on from the first question, it is worth asking who will be doing the work on your case. A more experienced lawyer will often charge more for their time and will concentrate on more difficult matters, delegating routine tasks to less experienced (and cheaper) staff. It is important to know who will be doing the work on your matter and who’s the time you will be paying for.
3. What qualification and experience do you have with the area of law my matter falls under?
Not all lawyers deal with the same types of legal matter, some spend most of their time dealing with real estate and conveyancing, others focus mainly on criminal matters with others mainly working with corporations. Knowing what your lawyer spends most of their time doing and what special qualifications they have (beyond a law degree) is vital information to learn early.
4. Are there any other ways to solve my problem?
There are often several ways of ending a legal dispute before people have to go to court. It is worth asking your lawyer what other options are available and what they might recommend instead of legal action. A good lawyer will know about what the alternative to legal action is and if they could be beneficial in your case.
5. What are my chances of winning?
Finally, no matter how good a lawyer is sometimes there is no good answer to the legal problem just a number of difficult choices. Sometimes the best thing that a lawyer can do for you is pointing out the least bad option and give you that advice. Knowing what is likely to happen is better than being told what you want to hear and being given a nasty surprised later on.
These questions should give you a starting point for your own queries and help you lay out a plan for your first meeting with your future potential lawyer. If you’re looking to take the next step of speaking with a lawyer, why not contact us at TBA law and schedule an appointment in any one of our offices located in Melbourne, Nagambie, Romsey, Wallan and now in Seymour.